We first made contact with freq13 to trade for their earliest releases around 2005. Five modest xeroxed covers, cdrs in wallets. BLACK VOMIT, DUKKHA and others. Music from rock/metal to noise, all interested in dismantling the usual genre boundaries.
Over the years new bands appeared including ICE BOUND MAJESTY and TORTURE GNOSIS. The covers became more elaborate, always feeling (and I’m sure for many literally) hand-made. Through it all freq13 has remained fiercely independent. It’s also a label — a small underground cabal — firmly rooted in a physical place.
In recent years freq13 has also been publishing an art/literature zine, The Eyelids of Dawn.
DRAWN FROM ICHOR is the latest band to emerge. This interview is split between the band and the label.
Thanks extended to Lee & Dave, they of the River Sheaf.
From a distance Frequency Thirteen (freq13) has always seemed like a collective of bands and projects gathered around the label, is that right? When you formed freq13 around 2004 what was your initial goal?
The only goal we’ve ever had as musicians is to write and produce music. The individual desires may vary, but we do this because it is what we do and it is what we will continue to do. It has been a community around the label (although not so much at the moment), where we would ask close friends who were creating work if they wanted to get something ‘out there’, friends who may never have done so off their own backs. Then use the label as a gallery of sorts, where people could view (listen to) these pieces made by quite often genuinely reclusive people (and usually outside of the metal scene)… The formation of freq13 simply came because at that time we started afresh with new musics, or at least new ways of making music, and wanted a way to share this. Also we were not necessarily interested in pushing demos out in the hope that someone would release it (even though that may have helped get stuff further out there). It was simply the easiest and quickest way to get our music heard.
Some of your first and most recent releases have been with the same bands (BLACK VOMIT, DUKKHA..) Was this sense of loyalty ever discussed or is it some kind of unspoken pact between you all?
I guess unspoken pact could be the best way…the core of us have known each other for quite sometime now, and worked together in bands/projects before. This core and some of the other artists involved also had a common meeting place to discuss ideas and listen to things we had been working on together and individually, but also a place where all musics (usually left field) were played and used as inspiration quite often to influence more music made by the group. The early releases were of the projects we were working on (as in, us, the label founders), so those projects and names have always been a large part of the release roster. Plus undoubtedly laziness comes into it…easier for us to release it via freq13 than for some of them to get someone else to release their stuff! Haha…we’re not the most outgoing bunch generally!
Do you share a common physical space in Sheffield?
The core of us have always hung out, listened to each other’s projects and helped each other’s projects out or played in the same bands and that will continue. And other than the above mentioned meeting place, most of the people involved have used a rehearsal space/studio we rent which is the ‘Behind the Sprayshop’ studio you will see namechecked on quite a few of the releases. Especially in today’s age of the internet and easy diy digital recording, even if we didn’t live in the same city, it will continue.
When did Drawn from Ichor (DfI) form?
We originally formed back in 2008 (or 09 I think) as a duo, but it’s been a sporadic thing and so was more or less unactive as such until we started writing again with some other contributors in 2013 or 14 (as expanded upon below) and since 2015 it’s been back to the original two and we are on quite a roll now. We are Lee on drums, vocals, production and Dave on bass, guitars with both contributing to synths/noise/ambience, though we reserve the right to swap roles and probably will for future releases. As for current projects, Lee plays in a Jazz quartet called Out Ink and has recently started playing drums in a doom band, while Dave is busy with another duo of black/death/(noise) called Rituals in Oscillation as well as releasing ambient/(noise) stuff as Atechts. We have joined forces previously in Skultroll & Astral Womb (along with another person).
You’ve both been involved in previous bands, you also have the ability for full DIY recording so could do anything.. what made you decide Drawn from Ichor was the ‘next project’? Is it now your sole focus?
We had both been focussing on other projects since the demise of Astral Womb and decided to get together another death metal project. This started out as a three piece before a line-up change pushed it to a ‘full’ 5 piece band. Eventually with things not going the way that we wanted, we decided to take full control back and decided we would do it as just the two of us. As for being a sole focus, yes and no. The freedom this project is allowing is amazing; we are always talking of the next thing we may do. At the point we are at musically now, we are in no way restricted to one genre. Yet the idea of pooling a lot of what may have gone into IBM or Black Vomit under the name DfI makes any music we make stronger.
It’s no surprise that DfI, described as death metal, does not sound like a familiar “death metal” record. The experimental approach makes sure of that, but I wonder who your metal influences are? I hear glimpses of NAPALM DEATH, PORTAL, LURKER OF CHALICE… close?
They are all influences for sure, though for the latest (as yet unheard by most), it was definitely Assuck/Fallen Christ/Disforterror worship. However we have often talked about the categorising of music into genres and how we just want to call our music ‘rock’. That led to a decision that Drawn from Ichor is a death metal band almost regardless of what we actually sound like, as we are approaching this from a death metal base. And we are channelling our feeling of death metal rather than what someone’s rule book says that death metal should be. Anyway, it’s all True Sheffield Black Psychedelia!! Sometimes We often feel more inspired by bands than influenced, and we both listen to a lot of non metal music. But, as far as metal goes one of the main bands to cement our friendship and made us realise way back that you could do more with metal, is the mighty Ved Beuns Ende…
How do you write/record the songs?
Different methods for different things we’ve done, but so far the base has been us two writing and recording ‘behind the sprayshop’, then layering up afterwards at our home studios. So the release we’ve just started to spread was a base of drums and bass, with guitar, synth, vocals being added after. The more recent stuff has been a base of guitar and drums with the same layering. We view this project as being an opportunity to record what we want, rather than it all needing to sound alike – very much unlike the traditional band scenario!
Can you give an overview of the lyrical / thematic side of DfI? Is there a Massein root…?
There is now! Haha, no, that is a nod toward the mighty Magma.
Lyrical inspiration will come from many different sources. Usually not stereotypical ‘metal’ words. For the album and the next release the lyrics are centred around concerns we may have about this place – either close to home or further afield. I’m (Lee) not from background where I can honestly vocalise what would be considered ‘true’ metal lyrics in the form of stereotypes (mountains, vikings, church and that view of satan/skull/graveyards etc.), so I have to write about what I feel strongly for. I don’t see the need to go into what all this means, but living in Sheffield and the north of England throughout the 80/90s you may get the drift of some. What I will do though is filter these thoughts I have through a different way of writing. So my lyrics will be more metaphorical, cryptic, arcane, esoteric – while usually still linked to the ‘real’ world where we exist.
The material for this CD is about a year old. Are you working on new songs?
We’ve been going full tilt since recording the stuff on the disc and have about three more albums worth of stuff which isn’t too far from being ready. The aforementioned Assuck/Fallen Christ worship is just needing vocals laying down, then it’s ready to go other than artwork – the plan is to have those two elements ready at the same time however. Then we have recorded an album of more straight up death metal (well, more straight up than the cd or the chaotic A/FC stuff) which needs bass and vocals recording. Another thing we have is a spaced out instrumental ‘dub’ death metal thing! Then when we’ve got those more or less finished, we’ll start on a new album. Unfortunately we’ve got day jobs and lives which take us away from doing this full time, as well as other projects so we can’t get all this finished as quick as we’d like. But we’re both pretty pleased with what we have got done under this name so far.
One of the early freq13 releases was a live recording, but how often do freq13-related bands play live? Any plans with DfI?
There were a couple of local ‘showcases’ where some of the freq13 bands played (which can be heard on our archive bandcamp), but we don’t play out too much. It happened a lot more in the past with other projects, but these days it’s low on the priority list. We played one DfI gig as a five piece a couple of years ago (supporting Hebosagil & Throat) but have nothing planned as yet. Maybe we’ll play in the future, though if we do it’d be stripped down and likely sound nothing like any releases…maybe we’d just do a minimal techno set…we wouldn’t want to be obvious!
Last words are yours!
If anyone is interested in hearing more, check out our bandcamp and the above ‘archive’ bandcamp, drop an email to freq13 (gmail) to be added to the (very sporadic) email list and get in touch if you want any further info. And finally thanks to you for the support over the years!